|Haynesworth eager for physical clash with Jaguars|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 September 2008 13:15|
It's the day that Haynesworth can start proving his worth to the Titans as their franchise player, and the first game in which he can start earning his way toward free agency after this season. Maybe the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Haynesworth is being politically correct, but that's not why he is so excited about the first game.
``I'm not really even thinking about that,'' Haynesworth said. ``All I'm thinking about is playing lights-out football, football I know I can play. Go out there and dominate the game.''
Haynesworth did just that so well in 2007 that he was selected to the All Pro team and voted to his first Pro Bowl. The Titans responded by slapping him with the franchise tag. But he also missed three games with a strained hamstring, which the Titans considered in negotiations on a long-term deal that fell short in July.
Before he signed his one-year deal for $7.25 million, the Titans agreed to write into the contract incentives allowing Haynesworth to become a free agent, including playing 53 percent of the defensive snaps.
Haynesworth, who has said he would like to stay in Tennessee, said he isn't thinking of 2009 yet.
``All I'm doing is taking one game at a time, going out and playing my game,'' he said.
Doing that will earn Haynesworth a multi-million dollar contract from somebody next year, and he couldn't be happier right now because the Titans get to open against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday - a near mirror image of Tennessee in an AFC South divisional game that will be decided by the linemen.
``These are probably the top two physical teams in the NFL,'' Haynesworth said. ``I can't name any other teams that are more physical than both of us, so it's going to be a dog fight. It's going to be a real war out there out there on the field. I'm excited because this is my type of game.''
Haynesworth's teammates love him because he cannot be blocked by one lineman. The double-teams Haynesworth faces frees them up, and they held opponents to 92.4 yards rushing per game last season ranking fifth in the NFL. In the three games Haynesworth missed? The Titans gave up 166, 166, and 148 yards rushing in each of those games - all losses.
``He creates unpredictable havoc for offenses that even just because he's a good player that you couldn't see coming because he jumps gaps and does all kinds of spin moves and does unorthodox stuff so definitely having him would be a big help,'' Titans middle linebacker Ryan Fowler said.
The first game Haynesworth missed last year was against Jacksonville on Nov. 11, and the Jaguars beat them 28-13.
Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who also missed that game, called Haynesworth one of the league's top tackles.
``You have to do things to help protect yourself from him,'' Garrard said. ``He's not somebody that we're looking over at all, I don't think any team out there would overlook him. He is definitely what coach likes to call a `game-wrecker' so we're going to make sure that we keep our eyes on him.''
The Jaguars will be without center Brad Meester because of a biceps injury. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said the key is finding someone who can block Haynesworth.
``That's easier said than done, he's a pretty good football player. They've got a pretty good front, in fact, they've got good players throughout their defense,'' Del Rio said.
And that starts with Haynesworth, the guy still remembered by many for his angry outburst in 2006 when he swiped his cleated foot across the face of Dallas center Andre Gurode. Anger management counseling aside, he channeled his emotions into his play as he had a career-high six sacks, 69 tackles, 23 quarterback pressures and six tackles for losses last year.
He said it starts with the first play and goes to his last on the field.
``I'm going to come off and dominate my guy to make sure you know that I'm the best he's ever faced,'' Haynesworth said.
In the NFL, that pays well sooner or later.